WH: Regulatory cuts can save $10B over five years

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President Obama in January signed an executive order requiring a government-wide regulatory review, which the White House unveiled today.

The White House today unveiled its final plans to make federal regulations more efficient, claiming its reforms could save more than $10 billion over five years. The plans to eliminate some regulations and simplify others stem from the executive order President Obama signed in January, ordering a government-wide regulatory review.

The Obama administration's effort to ease the regulatory burden on the business community comes amid criticism from Republicans and some in the private sector that Mr. Obama's policies have been a drag on the economy. Republican leaders and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce responded coldly to today's White House announcement.

Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, unveiled the new reforms today in a White House blog post, calling the government-wide review "unprecedentedly ambitious."

The 800 pages of reforms, some which have been finalized and some which are in the proposal process, are all-encompassing. They include plans from the Internal Revenue Service to eliminate 55 million hours in annual paperwork by consolidating tax reporting requirements, as well as a potential $4 billion in savings over five years in the Health and Human Services Department by eliminating unnecessary reporting requirements for hospitals and health care providers.

Just a fraction of the proposed changes would save over $10 billion over five years, according to the administration. As much as $4 billion will be saved over five years in reforms that have already been finalized.

"Perhaps more important, today's plans explicitly recognize that the regulatory lookback is not a one-time endeavor," Sunstein wrote on the White House blog. "Agencies will continue to revisit existing rules, asking whether they should be updated, streamlined, or repealed."

Sunstein added that the reforms will "complement, and do not displace," efforts to safeguard public safety and the environment.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a blog post today that it supports the administration's reforms but that the effort falls short.

"The administration's findings and determinations, on their own, are a worthy effort at making technical changes to the regulatory process, but the results of this lookback will not have a material impact on the real regulatory burdens facing businesses today," wrote Bill Kovacs, the Chamber's vice president of environment, technology and regulatory affairs.

Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Va., issued a statement calling the White House's reforms "underwhelming."

"Every day, business people and job creators cope with burdensome regulations that have a negative impact on both jobs and our economy, and again the president seems reluctant to do everything in his power to help them," he said.

Cantor said that Republicans next month will pursue policies to ease burdens on businesses, such as requiring a congressional review and approval of any proposed federal government regulation determined to have a "significant impact" on the economy. He called for further policy reforms such as overturning several proposed regulations within the Environmental Protection Agency.